Surviving narcissistic abuse is tough enough. How do we know when we are ready to start date again? What are the red flags we should watch out for so we don’t end up in another toxic relationship? In this episode, we will tackle this topic as well as the importance of learning to listen to your gut and why narcissists give such mixed signals.
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Surviving Narcissistic abuse is tough enough. So how do we know when we're ready to start dating again? What are the red flags we should watch out for so that we don't end up in another toxic relationship. In this episode of breaking free from narcissistic abuse, we're gonna tackle this topic as well as the importance of learning to listen to our.
and to explore why narcissists give such mixed signals. Thank you so much for joining me here. I'm Dr. Kerry Kerr McAvoy, a clinical mental health specialist with over 20 years of counseling experience. And I'm also a narcissistic abuse survivor. Be sure to subscribe so that you're notified of upcoming episodes and let us know what you think by leaving a.
This is a listener supported podcast, consider donating the cost of cup of coffee to help support us. So let's listen in on this replay of a TikTok live. So today's a weird day for me, five years ago, I married a narcisstic abusive person and thus began this big journey into narcissistic abuse that I never personally wanted to know.
I'd met him a year earlier than that before we married. So I met him in 2017, and then I got, we got married in actually I met him in 2016. We got married in 2017, you know, as a psychologist who had over heard over 20 years worth of clients stories, I thought I knew, I thought I knew a lot of terrible things.
What happens to people? I, that I had a clue of. Trauma. You do feel like after a while you've heard it all, but I had no idea until it was me who experienced it, what people were actually going through in these pathological relationships. I don't wanna just say exclusively pathological love relationships, because it includes more than just romantic connections.
It includes families, neighborhoods, work, coworkers, you know, at the job. Includes at the church includes all these various places where we can find ourselves in an abusive relationship. I didn't appreciate the angst. People felt when they're in the thick of this, that it isn't just as simple as getting out.
I, to me, it just felt like a matter of people not holding good boundaries, they needed to sort of strengthen what they were not doing well, get better at it. And that somehow that would fix everyth. I didn't appreciate that. The, the duality, the dichotomy that happens in these relationships, that you don't actually know who you're in a relationship with.
I didn't realize that that you're being fed a story you're living an experience you think is authentic. Real. It feels real to you, but you don't realize that it's all. That the relationship from the moment this person stepped into your life, however way they stepped into your life, whether it's the committee at work or the friend at church, or it's the neighbor down the road or a date, you don't realize that from the moment you met them, they have been creating a false persona in order to get you into the relationship.
Now, do they know that they're doing, this is, this is intentional. So I'm gonna put that aside for a. so you think that you're living this real experience where two people come together and they agree to have some kind of a connection. And then based upon that agreement, they believe that they're gonna work at this connection in order to improve it, to grow it, to make it more.
So you don't realize, even though your gut's telling you screaming at you, something's terribly wrong, you don't realize. , it's not that at all, that this is you're being used. That, that you're no more useful to this person than the car is out in the front of their house or the camera they use to take the phone pictures or their phone.
That you're just a prop that will serve its function for as long as it serves its function. And once the prop is used up, they'll move on to a different. That level of deception and confusion creates this incredible, mixed feeling like you don't know what's real and you feel like you're going crazy.
That's what I didn't appreciate about narcissistic abuse until I lived it. And so three, five years ago started my horror story of a marriage that lasted for two. And I'll tell you I've gone some through some pretty tough things in my life. Some really horrific things in my life that abuse equals other horrific types of abuse.
They equal it. And I'm talking about I've experienced massive trauma and this is the same. And yet, you know what, interestingly, he never laid a hand on. Never touched me, actually. He never even called me a name. He didn't have to. What he did was create such, such a mental fog and confusion and set of lies that I had no idea for what was up and what was down, what was real and what was not real at one time, asked him, I described my experience with the relationship with him and I said, this is what it's like to wake up.
We go through the day and this is how the day end. Is it anything like that for you at all? Is that what's happening on your end? And he said not at all, not at all. One more thought I've been finishing up a seminar with Sandra Brown's studies, uh, out of Purdue university with pathological love relationships.
She spent 30 plus years working with psychopaths. She wrote a book, uh, women who love psychopaths, fascinating women, a book. And she actually asked the psychopaths. She sat down with one of the group therapy sessions and. So, what kind of person are you looking for in a love relationship? And they described high functioning, likable, warm, generous, helpful cooperative, loyal, conscientious people.
That's what they're looking for. You think about it actually, like why would you go for somebody like that? Well, because these are people who see the best in other people. They're also, uh, they believe in the goodness of people. And when they make a relationship, a commitment to something, they stick through it, it's part of their personal code.
They wanna be the person who sort of sees things through. So as a result, they are those that once they make a commitment, they're in it. And doesn't that make sense? If you are going to con somebody. You'd want somebody who's not gonna readily see through the con and you're also gonna want somebody who's going to work really hard to make things work and take a lot of ownership of it.
Believing that if they just worked harder, things would get better because that means the con lasts longer. Isn't that fascinating. So she actually heard her from the mouths of criminals. That that's what they're looking for. I was cuz you know, the stereotype and she even explained the stereotype where it came from the stereotype of that.
Most people who get into pathological love relationships are co-dependent people pleasing, insecure. Troubled home, low self-esteem. It came out of 30 plus years of looking at domestic violence victimology. So they actually, when they were taking surveys of people who use resources, social services, they looked at the victimology of the type of a person that tends to end up in those settings.
In other words, when you look at a whole bell curve, the whole of all the population, they were looking at one end. But they didn't see the whole picture. And as a result, they took this one snapshot and characterized the whole group as defining that's, who gets into these love relationships. Yes. That group's there.
They represent 37% of them, but the 63% actually didn't fit that profile. They actually fit a very different profile. I thought that was fascinating, which makes sense why there is such. Concept. She calls it myth. She says, it's the myth of the victims? Why there's this belief? The victim is a certain type of a person.
In fact, what's happened is we spent all this time and energy trying to help those people be less codependent. And we've actually, we're focusing on the wrong things. We need to help them learn to trust themselves better and realize they have what's called super trait. And that they need to be a little more cautious in how to use these traits with other people.
What is the personality type psychopaths are looking for? They're looking for people who score high on two different traits, personality traits. Now, what is the personality trait? Is that changeable? No. Your personality traits like describing the features of a phone, how big the resolution is or how fast the processor is.
It's the, it's the way you're built. It's how you interact with the world. It's sort of, hardwiring the two traits that victims. Tend to have high extra amount of is agreeableness also known as cooperativeness. And they also conscientiousness, which is sort of a moral integrity. So they tend to be all these things that I listed.
They tend to be generous, helpful, loyal, um, humble cooperative, conscientious. They have a lot of intake, self integrity. They're self starters. They work really hard. All those characteristics tend to. Grabbed by those two metrics and the metrics are coming from a personality test called the five factor personality test.
It's a big kind of a looks at five traits looks at how open you are, how conscientious, how agreeable extroverted as well as how stable you are. So it looks at those five features. What they found is people who get into these love relationships tend to score high on agreeableness and conscientiousness.
Yeah, it's really fascinating. Isn't it? So, okay. So here's the other question. If these are traits of a victim, what are traits of an narcissist and are traits changeable? If you have, if you're an agreeable person, you're a very sensitive, empathic, loyal. No, that's the way you're wired. It's the way you see the world, how you interact with everybody.
The same goes for narcissism. Narcissism is also kind of hardwired. psychology recognized a long time ago that all personality disorders are what we see as pervasive conditions. And they are diagnosed right alongside of autism and mental deficiencies. Now, can you change your IQ? Can a person who has autism suddenly not be autistic?
No, these are pervasive. They are part of a person's makeup in the same way. Narcissism is a part of a person's makeup. Well, what is narcissism? If you look at the DSM five, there are nine criteria. We, you need at least four to I'm sorry, five to be diagnosable, but let me kind of describe it from a interpersonal standpoint.
That's somebody who. Thinks that they're above the rules of society. They think that somehow they're extra special and that as a result, they get to redefine things the way that they want, which includes becoming they they're very deceptive to them. Why not? They also one big critical difference between them and the rest of the world is that they don't have a conscience.
They the same sort of principles that you follow that make you a good person that make you law. A biting makes neighbors like. They don't see that as necessary that they really believe that what's more important is, is what's important for them. And so they really pursue things to their own end, to the degree that they ignore everything else.
Now, is this something that can change? Well, interestingly enough, when they look at neurological imaging, when they look at brain imaging, they actually find out, found that their brain. Lights up in different areas and it lights up for you and me. So they have different kind of areas activated or dim that's different than that general population.
And one of them is this excessive focus on self is one of the areas that's highly activated and the area where makes you kind of worrying, feel guilty. That area is actually underactive. It's very quiet. There's not a lot of activity there. So these differences in narcissists, aren't just learned behavioral.
They're actually, they're actually part of what makes them them is part of their brain. Now, does that mean then they can't change it? Well, so if I said to you, if you were born blind and couldn't see, and I wanted to get you to really learn, to identify the color blue. how would I do that? You don't have a, a, a framework to understand what even blue looks like.
I could say it's like touching ice it's feels calm. I could describe it to you. I could try to give you how it feels to see the colored blue, but how would I make you then recognize it? If you actually don't have the ability to see it because narcissism narcissists don't have conscience, which means they're low empathy and they're very low in self-reflection.
How do you get them to be self reflective and empathic, which that means care about the feelings of somebody else. See another person as a person that gets really tough. So why then are there a few self-aware narcissists? Is that even real? Let's go ahead and talk about the elephant in the room. I think what's happening is that every person varies on.
These ego strengths is what they really are. Ego strengths, ego strengths of empathy, ego strength of what's called self-reflection or introspection. We all vary. Some of us are extremely high. Some of us are in the middle. Some of us are kinda low. Same goes with the narcissists. Yes. They're. They tend to be lower than average, but maybe someone is a little higher than the average narcissist where somebody else has nearly none at all.
So I think when you see self-aware narcissists, who tends to be, seem to be self-reflective and tends to be, seemed to do better or working at it, what you're seeing is really somebody who has a measure, more of something that they're very low. Now will they ever be a highly sensitive empathic feely touchy person?
No, no, they won't, but can they at least not be cheating on their wife and doing other hurtful things? Yeah, maybe, maybe most of the time, most of the time. So I hope that makes sense. What happens is because they get into relationships with those of us who are really high on these things, we end up thinking.
We see it and it makes sense to us that they can see it and it should make sense to them. We apply our worldview to their worldview and it's not anything alike. Again, it'd be like talking to a blind person about the color blue. It just isn't visible to them. It's just not a part of their makeup. Um, hope asked what have I heard of a narcissistic crisis?
um, I think what you're also talking about would be called a narcissistic wound, by the way, we all have a measure of narcissism. You're somewhere on the spectrum from high to low, hopefully you're low on it, but we all have an ego. We have self-esteem in things, impact us. So a narcissistic crisis or a narcissistic wound.
If I think of it's the same thing, I'm gonna assume it's the same thing is really when something has hit you at a self-esteem and made you feel ashamed. Or embarrassed or caught or, you know, some kind of like it's a, it's a ego crisis you feel found out and unsure you're standing. And in that moment, the more unregulated you are.
In other words, the less ego strengths you have to sort of control yourself, be disciplined, have ethics, all those things that sort of moderate our behavior. If you don't have a lot of. And you have a crisis, then you're going to fall apart and do things that are socially unacceptable, like rage hits, you know, actually maybe even become violent or makes, become threatening, do something that's very large.
But for all of us, I, regardless if we're a narcissistic or not, it's never good to feel a pricked or self-esteem, that's always painful. It's hard for all of. So Sassy's trying to get a divorce and her partner says he's done, but he won't sign the papers. And if she's now been waiting for over two years for him to sign, yeah, that's common.
What happens with narcissistic abusive relationships is that they always need to be in control and they wanna point of leverage. And when there's leaving, leaving is never easy. In fact, there's seven different types of leaving. I'm about ready to put out a video on that. Regardless of how you leave, even if you think it's amiable, it's always in their minds.
They want it to be equally, massively destructive to both partners. They're gonna make sure because they feel there's this trauma to them. It says something to them. They wanna make sure it really hurts you, that they do you in the process. So that's why he's not signing. In some ways he sees that as leverage he has over you.
And he wants that love. that's tough. Wow. And I don't, that's where I wish the court systems did a better job at really helping us in those situations because they often use other systems in order to abuse us, whether it's child protective services or family court, or it's the, you know, court divorce court, or whether it's whatever work or they find other ways to sort of abuse us through institutions.
And I'm really sorry that's happening to you. So Ja while bringing said that she's been using my tips on the video and now he's calling her narcissists while it's called projection is what's happening. And I it's very common. What happens is when you start to become disengaged and detached, they'll use any leverage they can to sort of push you, use hot buttons as a way to get you back.
So your partner knows you. Being called. That would be very painful. So they're using that as a way to get at you and affect you, but he's what he's really tipping his hand or she's really? Yes, he tipping his hand is he's saying to you, you're getting to him, you're getting under his skin. He doesn't like the fact that he feels a loss of control with you.
So now he's trying a new tactic to get control with you. don't fall for it. This is where, when I talk about emotional detachment, I literally mean emotionally detached. Like their opinions cease to matter him having this viewpoint of view has to begin to not be important to you. And to know that's hard because.
Well think about it. If you're in a love relationship, that means they, we believe they had our backs and we believe they were in just like we were in and that they love us. And so that means their opinions is probably one of the most important opinions in our lives. So we have to literally not just divorce ourselves from the person, but divorce ourselves from their observations and criticisms and attitudes and feelings about everything, which basically means you're killing the relationship.
We all know that's what you're trying to do anyway. It's the only way to keep safe, unfortunately, because these are not people that you can be intimate with safely intimate with. Unfortunately, are you looking for help? Maybe you're feeling really alone and isolated. I know that I had never felt more on my own when I was in the middle of that narcissistic abusive relationship.
Having the help of a supportive community is one of the leading predictors of good recovery. I have just the solution. Come join me in my toxic free relationship club. It's a private premium group that encourages and challenges each other for $7 a month, you can get round the clock support while you meet other survivors.
I lead group discussions and do check-ins to learn more, check out the link in the show notes. And in fact, if you sign up, there's a coupon code for $3 off for your first three months. I can't wait to see you over.
How quick can you spot a narcissist to, so you don't waste your time? That's it, it mean, it depends on how good you can get at listening to your gut and really identifying how they make you feel when you're around them. So think of the narcissist, the various types. Like I would actually, if I were you, I would list them.
What's a vulnerable narcissist, which is also known as covert narcissist, make me feel like when I'm around. What is a somatic, who's also a sexual nurse. Isist make me feel, how do I feel when I'm going around a malignant? How do I feel when I'm around a grandiose, it's gonna be different for every type.
Cause there's all these sub. I can tell you how I feel when I'm around a grandiose. Narcissist. I want them to think I'm as good as they are. They kind of bring out the yearning for that. For me, when I'm around a sexual narcissist or a somatic narcissist, I feel super insecure about my body and all my issues with that come up.
When I'm around a vulnerable narcissist, I feel sorry for them very pulled into them. And I think that somehow they're gonna listen to me and care about me. So see, I've learned how to recognize how they make me feel. So then when I'm around somebody that I start to feel those feelings, I think. Ooh, wow.
Okay. What characteristics? Maybe I might be missing that I need to be paying attention to because when I feel this way, usually I've met a narciss. that's how I learned to do it. I learned to identify, use myself as an emotional thermometer, by the way, you probably don't know this, but clinicians, psychologists, social workers, mental health professionals are trained to do this as, as their job.
So let me give you example how it works in the office. Have you ever noticed when you're talking to somebody who's chit-chatting about people you don't know or things you, they are doing that you don't really care about. You start to feel very bored and even sleepy. You wanna like that same thing happens in therapy.
When you have a person client come in, who's not working on issues. They're you feel sleepy because what they're talking about, isn't emotionally authentic and vulnerable and you, you feel it. But whenever someone's talking about something is. Mind blowing shocking, like gut wrenching and you can't believe what happened, aren't you the most?
I don't care how much sleep you got the night before you're wide awake. They have your attention. When in therapy, when someone is really doing the hard work in treatment. That's how you feel as a clinician you're wide awake. So I've learned to recognize how I feel in the office, telling me something about the person.
It tells me what they're evoking in me, where my vulnerabilities that they're tapping into share something about them and their issues. Well, the same is actually happening all the time around us. With every relationship I, you don't need to be clinician to do this. You can be doing this pay attention to how people make you.
That tells you a lot about the person, how safe you are, how, uh, whether or not they're interested in you, whether or not, um, this is a person you're gonna want it to let your guard down and get to know better. So learn to pay attention to those things. But there are some things that narcissists tend to do right off the bat that are kind of.
Typical, but not, I wouldn't, I wouldn't put all my money on it. In other words, you could, you may meet in an exception to the rule. They tend to control the conversational dialogue a lot. And, but there are other people do too. Autistic people do trauma people, trauma victims do so. It, but it's just an indicator.
So notice that they can share the floor. Usually they'll do something that kind of puts you in your place that tells them, tells you that they're in. Mine was overly shiver less. You wouldn't let me open the doors. He had to carry everything. We went to the beach, had to carry everything possible to the ridiculous viewpoint, to where actually he could hardly walk.
He was so bogged down with all of the stuff and he wouldn't let me take anything that was stupid. Um, so just notice those types of things. They'll also do something that sort of tells you a vulnerable story as a way to elicit sympathy from you. They'll give you some shocking backstory that most people wouldn't tell you that fast, that feels a little ill timed.
And that is because they want you to feel fast rapport with them. And they usually will tell you something about other people. Code to tell you how they wanna be. Like, they'll say, you're not gonna be one of those people who, or they'll tell you what their exes were like as a way to tell you not to be, don't be like that.
They'll do something that sort of makes you emotionally responsible for the relationship. So those are some things that I would watch for when you meet someone new. If you wanna know whether or not this person's a narcissist or not. Why does he act so nice when he is never there? When I'm sick or nor does he really care?
Why do they get so jealous when you know, they don't really love us. Why be jealous? Well, it's two things kind of going on here. One is there's the public persona. These people narcissists want the public to think good about them. They have a good guy or a nice woman act that they need to keep up. And as a result, they'll do whatever they need to do in order to keep that persona in place.
They don't really want people to. Who they are. So there's a level of awareness that this is off and wrong. And so they have this persona to keep. Including those around you, you know, they want, so they like to put on a good show. And the other problem is though, is they see you all as property. You're not really a person.
You are an object, which is why they get jealous and get upset and get enraged and are so controlling of you. They don't recognize your humanity. You're not an individual separate person with feelings and dreams and hopes and goals. They don't see any of that. All they see is the degree that you. Helping them are your convenience or you're an inconvenience.
Other than that, they don't really recognize your personhood much. It's sad. It's a very sick disorder. Very sick. Thank you so much for joining me on this episode of breaking free from narcissistic abuse. It's always a pleasure hanging out with you. Don't forget to get your tickets for the upcoming webinar with Dr.
Kristen Milsted it's August 18th at six 30 Eastern standard time. And even if you can't make it that night, you'll save money, buying the ticket, then having to buy the replay after the event is over, it's gonna be jam packed with really helpful information. Like how do you break a trauma bond? And why are you feeling so confused?
How come you're paralyzed and can't make the decision about getting out of the relationship. Be sure to get your ticket through the. And until next Monday, I'll see you then. Bye bye.